Copyright and “orphan” works – a new government scheme

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The general legal position is that, if you want to reproduce a piece of work covered by copyright, you will have to first seek and obtain the permission of the copyright owner.

What are “orphan” works?

It can sometimes prove to be very difficult to locate the owner of work protected by copyright (particularly if the work was created many years ago). Where the copyright owner cannot be traced, their work is known as “orphan” work.

New government scheme

To combat the difficulties surrounding the reproduction of orphan works, the government will soon introduce a licensing scheme.  This scheme will enable orphan work to be reproduced without the copyright owners’ prior permission.

What’s the catch?

As you might expect, the licensing scheme is subject to certain requirements. Before permission will be granted, anyone looking to reproduce orphan work will first have to demonstrate that they have carried out specific searches in an attempt to locate the owner.

You are not alone….

Government guidance has already been produced that sets out precisely where you should search and which resources you should use. Separate guidance is available in relation to each of “film and sound”, “literary works” and “still visual art”.

When will the scheme be in force?

Subject to parliamentary approval, the new scheme is due to come into force on 29 October 2014.

I have some questions….

If you have any questions about the new scheme or would like to discuss copyright issues more generally, please contact either Alex Craig on 0191 211 7911 or Gill Hunter on 0191 211 7944.